CAPE TOWN, March 18 (ANA) - The mining industry’s preparedness plans are very far advanced, based on established risk-management principles, and are currently being implemented and amended as the Covid-19 situation evolves, the Minerals Council South Africa said on Wednesday.
The council held a special board meeting on the Covid-19 challenges facing the mining industry on Tuesday, with a view to further developing strategies and responses to minimise the virus’s impact on the industry and its employees.
“We were particularly pleased at the presence at the meeting of Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe and his team. It is a sign of a collaborative approach that bodes well during these trying times,” Minerals Council chief executive, Roger Baxter said.
The minister and the Minerals Council were in full agreement that the top priority in the weeks ahead is to optimise all possible preventative measures that will enable the industry to continue operating as normally as circumstances permit. The goal is to do everything possible to prevent damage to the industry, its employees and the economy as a whole.
According to the council, this involved intensifying implementation of the 10-point plan developed since the early period of the virus. These include, among others, employee education and health promotion, health worker readiness and proactive influenza vaccination, which the industry undertakes and promotes every year.
In carrying out these tasks, the special board meeting recognised that South African circumstances, and mining industry circumstances in particular, require a special approach.
“For example, self-isolation or self-imposed quarantine in mining communities needs to be handled differently from how it is carried out in, for example, cities of Europe and North America or the suburban areas of South Africa. The industry is therefore examining the case for providing or supporting quarantine facilities,” said Baxter.
The use of wards in existing mine hospitals, already with expertise in the screening and treatment of tuberculosis, including XDR TB, is being examined for COVID-19 patients. This could extend beyond industry employees, and regional partnerships established with state health facilities in certain mining regions, the Council said.
“As a key pillar of South Africa’s economy, both in its own right and as a customer and suppliers of other sectors, the industry is determined to keep its facilities in operation in order to ensure that, once the Covid-19 pandemic has passed, South Africa’s economy is able to resume, develop and grow,” said Baxter.
- African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Devereaux Morkel